PHILADELPHIA -- As a player, Craig Berube made his NHL debut as a member of the Flyers in Philadelphia. Tuesday night, a day after being named the Flyers new bench boss, his NHL coaching debut will also take place in the City of Brotherly Love.
But the 47-year-old recently-named Flyers coach is a long way removed from March 22, 1987, when he had no points and 16 penalty minutes against the Pittsburgh Penguins as a 21-year-old rookie with the Flyers.
"As a player I was young, I was probably a lot more nervous than I am now," said Berube, who was promoted from his assistant position Monday to replace the fired Peter Laviolette. "I'm an old man now."
Berube said that being an assistant coach at the NHL level for six seasons, as well as a head coach for parts of two seasons in the American Hockey League, has him feeling prepared for his NHL head coaching debut Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.
"I've been behind the bench for a long time," he said. "I think my team is ready to compete and work hard."
One of the players he's looking forward to seeing in action is goaltender Steve Mason. Despite the Flyers allowing nine goals in their first three games, goaltending has not been a sore spot for the team. A former starting goaltender with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Mason has shown occasional flashes of the form that earned him the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2009 as the League's top rookie. In two games this season with Philadelphia, he has posted a .915 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average.
"I've seen pretty good goaltending so far," Berube said. "Mason has a lot of talent. He's a young kid. He obviously had the one great year and kind of fell back a little bit. Coming here last year he rebounded and feels pretty confident right now. He's got a lot of skill.
"[Fellow Flyers goaltender] Ray Emery has got a huge heart, won a Stanley Cup [with the Chicago Blackhawks]. He's a winner, a good veteran, a great guy to have around. Ray Emery wins games. He went 17-1 last year, and if you go back to his record in Ottawa, he wins games."
While Laviolette had said he was willing to rotate goalies game-by-game -- Mason and Emery switched off in the first three games -- Berube appears to have a different philosophy.
"That [having a set No. 1] is nice if you know that can happen," Berube said when asked if he would rather have a designated top goaltender instead of rotating Mason and Emery. "But we're not there yet."